It's hard to remember a science fiction series that has hit so big so quickly. Yet by the end of the first series of Heroes, it feels - for all the right reasons - that the show's been around for longer than it has, such is the huge amount of success it's enjoyed.
The setup is simple, yet undeniably intriguing. It essentially tells the stories of a series of people who discover they have legitimate, differing superhero powers. On top of that, these people then gradually appreciate that these powers are needed for reasons that soon become apparent, and the story of Heroes builds up from there.
Heavily influenced by comics both in its structure and story, Heroes sustains interest through a number of story arcs of different magnitudes, skillfully weaving them throughout the 23 episodes that make up the season. It's contained enough to keep you interested, yet offers enough threads to make several more seasons a very appealing prospect.
Heroes, though, really gels because the basics are right. It's plotted intelligently, written and directed with real nerve and talent, and has a cast who you can't help but get emotionally involved with. It's also, for the overwhelming majority of its episodes, utterly compelling television. Ironically, its few miss-steps of any note come right at the back end, by which time you really would forgive it pretty much anything.
Heroes is rightly being heralded as a sci-fi classic in the making. Yet even if subsequent seasons don't fully do justice to those words - and at the time of writing, season two is still some way from debuting - this boxset will serve as a glowing testament to just how good television can be when it's just done right.
Truncated to a slim 11 episodes as a result of the writers' strike that was ongoing in America during its production, Heroes' second season nonetheless packs enough in to keep the momentum rolling on one of the most exciting Stateside shows of the moment.
Heroes is, at heart, the comic book tale of a varied group of people, each with special powers that they struggle to come to terms with. With such powers, of course, come troubling foes and situations to face, and that proves to be the case here. So this time, we pick up four months after the events of the first series, and there's the small matter of the Shanti virus to contend with. This provides the main thrust for the series' story arc, and allows room for several interesting sub-plots to develop too.
Yet while, in the world of Heroes, you suspect that this second series will never rank with the best, there's easily enough here to justify the asking price, and the show emerges easily with its reputation intact. Even when it's not at the top of its game, Heroes is exciting, interesting and polished entertainment.
There's a lot that's fitted in to Heroes' third season, a run that tried valiantly to correct some of the problems that the show encountered with its less-than-successful second series. Season three features two volumes of the Heroes story, Villains and Fugitives, but once more it gets off to a bumpy start.
The early stages of Heroes' third season suffer from many of the problems that plagued season two, as it tries to deal with the threads that were left behind. But the show finally finds its feet as it heads towards the back end of the series, with a genuine feeling returning that the show knows exactly which way it's going again. Characters begin to find out more about one another, there's a bit more of a grounding in some kind of reality, and finally a narrative thrust that scoops back up many who have been left baffled by the direction that Heroes has taken since its terrific maiden season.
And it's good to see the show back on form. Even in its weaker moments, Heroes' production values were sky high, and there are many genuinely impressive sequences thrown in your direction over the course of season three. But most impressive of all is the feeling that the show has dug itself out of the hole that it managed to find itself in, and courtesy of an impressive rally at its back end, season three is certainly worth picking up. Even if you might need to grit your teeth a bit in the early stages...
Experience all the explosive action and shocking twists in Heroes Season 4.
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